Thursday, January 29, 2009

Upcoming Races

I've been trying to add a stinkin' countdown tool to this blog for weeks, and the only I can find doesn't work. Hmph! I want to show how much time I have left between now and July 4th, which is when I will be running the Peachtree Road Race. I've been looking at pictures of past races, and with the 55,000 person crowd that will be there I am thinking that this will be a race just to have fun. I doubt that I can accurately judge my time, especially since only the elite groups get to have running chips. I will have to depend on my own watch and hope I don't get run over in the crowd.

Speaking of races though, I will be running in the Cherokee County Animal Shelter Scurry in Canton GA this Saturday. This race will be helping a cause I feel very strongly about because the four cats I have were all rescued. I'm just not looking forward to the super early start time (8 am, but because the race is so far away I have to leave my apartment at 6:30). I've been so inconsistent the past two weeks I'm going to forget about performance and PRs and just have fun. This will be the first race I can use my neck gaiter in due to the cold, so pictures ought to be interesting!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Passing out and the best corn dogs ever

I have hypoglycemia. This means that I sometimes have a hard time controlling my blood sugar. When I got home today I was suddenly ravenous, so I did what any conscientious person does. I ate a bunch of oreo cookies. Unfortunately the sudden influx of refined sugar caused me to fall asleep hardcore on the couch. Oops! I could say that I didn't know any better, but I do. Oh well. Hopefully the oreos will be gone soon and I'll have the temptation removed. I can't even blame my husband because I bought the oreos myself. I'd say lessons learned but I would bet that you'll hear about something like this from me in the near future.

On to the corn dogs....I actually don't like to eat a lot of meat. I often joke that I'm married to Meatasaurus Rex, so going meatless isn't always an option. On a whim I picked up MorningStar's corn dogs made with veggie dogs. OMG they're awesome! I usually don't care if the fake meat tastes like meat, but this was so convincing the Meatasaurus Rex liked it. Nuke them for a couple minutes, slather ketchup on them, and chow down baby. At 150 calories a piece, you can enjoy a little comfort food without feeling guilty. I'm honestly just glad I can eat something without all the preservatives that normally accompany hot dogs. Woohoo!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Winter sucks

I just have to say I'm excited that I have 5 subscribers according to Google Reader. Yay!!

On another note, I've definitely had a motivation issue lately. I tend to have that problem this time of year and it's usually because of the lack of sunlight and the cold weather. I still feel confident that I'll meet my mileage goal for the Peachtree, but I need to get my act together soon. I just feel so blah. I also ate like a freakin' pig last weekend LOL. I do have a race this weekend, so hopefully I'll get another runner's high that will carry me into additional training.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Negative Splits

For those that don't know, negative splits in the running world mean running slowest at the beginning of your run and fastest at the end of your run. You should save your energy for that final push at the end of the run/race. I've been wondering how I could incorporate that into my training runs when I finally realized I had the best tool in the world to help regulate my pace - the treadmill! Finally the dreaded treadmill had a purpose other than help me run during bouts of bad weather or inadequate sunlight. So I tried this technique last night and it was awesome.

Here's how I did it:

Since I was planning on a 30 minute run, I divided up the run into 3 parts. The first 10 minutes I ran at 4.8 mph, slower than my usual runs on the treadmill. Then I ran another 10 minutes at 5.0 mph. The final 10 minutes were supposed to be at 5.2, but as I got closer to the end of the 30 minute mark the more I realized I also wanted to make sure I hit 2.5 miles for my mileage. I bumped up the speed until I finished my run at 5.6 mph. This may sound hard to some, but because I was able to break up the run into smaller segments I could get away from obsessing about how long the run was. I also had so much more energy than I normally do at the end of the run that the extra burst of speed at the end felt better than I could have ever imagined. I don't think I could have maintained for too long, but it felt pretty damn good to know I could do it at all.

I definitely recommend trying to use this technique in your own training runs, especially on the treadmill. Too often we try to run too fast and tire out quickly when left to our own devices outdoors (I'm very guilty of this). Once you get better at controlling your pace I think using this outdoors is great. Just make sure you're taking advantage of the treadmill by checking your form in the mirror. I'll talk more about form at a later date, but here's a good link if you want more information now.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Working your core

When people think of running and what it takes to be a successful runner, most of us automatically think legs. That's what I did when I started running. I've come to find out that running is much more complicated than that.

First came the realization that while my legs could go on and on, my heart and lungs couldn't. I found that when my heart rate got too high I had to walk. Breathing becomes more of an issue in the winter for me because I have exercise-induced asthma. The solution for that is to use a neck gaiter to cover my mouth as I breath in the cold air.

Now comes a second realization. My core isn't strong enough to handle the mileage build-up I'd like to achieve in the next few months. By core I mean my abdomen and lower back. I've been having a little trouble with a stiff and sore lower back for weeks now. I thought perhaps it was my mattress, which I would love to replace sometime soon. Unfortunately I am 99% certain that it's the running. Because I'm working on stamina and endurance and my back isn't strong enough to meet the challenge, I'm running into more pain than I'm used to. This isn't debilitating pain - it's more annoying than anything else. But if I'm not careful I could hurt myself.

Here are some links that show how to work on some simple core exercises that are good for runners. Remember to give each exercise time. Don't rush through them using momentum because you're not getting a good workout that way. To be cliche, feel the burn.

Bridge - Great for working glutes and hamstrings. Repeat 10-12 times.

Side plank - Or any planks really. Great for obliques, transversus abdominus (deep abs), lower back, hips, and glutes. I hate planks in general because they're hard, but I know they work. Hold this position 10-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Superman - Great for transversus abdominus and erector spinae (lower back). 10 reps on each side.

Take a look at the other exercises that accompany those links. They're all good at strengthening your core. Sit-ups and crunches are good, but they don't work deep muscles like the three highlighted above do. Dedicate 15-20 minutes 3 times a week and you'll start to feel a difference. These exercises won't eliminate belly fat but you'll reduce your risk of back injuries significantly. And who wants a back injury? I certainly don't!

Edit: I should have noted that I got this idea from Runner's World December issue.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mileage build-up

Now that it's 2009, I'm working on building up my endurance so that I can tackle the Peachtree this summer while minimizing my risk of injury. February's issue for Runner's World talks about how to handle some of the common hurdles runners face when trying to either increase distance or improving speed. I kind of laughed at myself because this is the second time since I've started running in 5ks that a publication has said you should be able to run 4 miles before considering a 5k. Oops!! I'm very close to the 3 mile mark and I've been running/walking in 5ks for about 7 months. I don't regret my decision though because the races have really kept me motivated.

So far I'm trying to increase weekly mileage by 10% each week, but I am remembering to take it easy every 3 weeks or so. You need to give your body a chance to rest so you don't hurt yourself or burn yourself out mentally. I can usually tell when I've pushed too hard too long when I start feeling the pains in my shins. I have really hurt myself getting shin splints in the past, so I've learned my lesson!

Basically learn to read your body's signals. Some pains are okay. Some are not. The worst demotivator a runner will face is injury. If something does happen, don't be afraid to see your doctor. Don't forget the RICE method either (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). I know it's tough to rest when you want to get out there and keep improving, but don't hurt yourself any more because you're overenthusiastic.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Good/Bad diet tips

CNN linked to an article that showed the best tip from a popular diet plan and the worst tip from the same diet plan. If you're still trying to find something to help you lose weight or get fit, I think this might help you make an informed decision.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Around Peachtree Battle 5k

I definitely had a good race today! I managed to run just about all of it. I took a tiny walk break after the second mile, but I ran the rest. So far that's the best I've done. Hopefully I'll be able to run a full three miles in another week or so. I'd like to begin ramping up my mileage so that I can be really ready for the Peachtree Road Race in July.

My time was 35:23, 7 seconds faster than my PR. My running buddy Jennifer said her watch gave her a final time 20 seconds faster than the race time, but I'm happy either way. Endurance wise I'm getting much better. Towards the end I might as well have walked because I was jogging so slowly, but I kept going. The more I train, the better I will be. The next race I'm signing up for is on February 28th, so I'm seriously considering looking for something else between now and then.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Bondi Band part 2

I just ordered three more Bondi Bands because they're that awesome. When I opened up the package I noticed I also received a card. A card with online coupon codes!! Yay!!!

If you're interested in purchasing any, try these when checking out:

Buy 3 get 1 FREE - Coupon code: ONE

Five for $25 - Coupon code: FIVE

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but January seems to be the month of diet and fitness tips. You'll see anything ranging from "exercise doesn't matter as much as diet" to "secrets of effortlessly skinny people". If you try to follow the advice in every article you come across, you'll get so confused with the contradicting information that you'll want to give up out of frustration. I mean, CNN is saying one of the oldest people alive credits bacon for living so long. You read that right. Bacon.

So for anyone trying to get in shape or lose weight right now, please know that you have some options out there in terms of what kind of diet you'd like to follow or what kind of exercise regimen you adopt. (Btw, diets are misleading. You should strive to make healthy changes to your eating habits for the rest of your life, not for a few weeks or months.) Honestly there is just too much information floating on the web, and you shouldn't let that deter you from meeting your goals. This is more about evolving and adapting a better way of life than trying to meet a target weight.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Go Oprah!

I'm not a huge fan of Oprah's, but I don't hate her either. I think many people (mostly women) tend to follow what she says with blind and fanatical devotion which is a little scary. I have to admit that I was a little annoyed when Anna Karenina became a hit when I had already read it two or three times by the time Oprah noticed it and her book club told everyone to read it. But she is a woman that many people all over the world can relate to because of one struggle: weight.

For those that don't know, Oprah has come clean about her 40 pound weight gain. She now tips the scales at 200 pounds. I think she's gone through a grieving process in a way. First she was in denial. She talked about how she hid her body when posing for shots on the cover of her magazine "O". Then she was angry and to me now seems ready to accept what has happened to her body and the responsibility for those changes. I'm interested in seeing how she will stay motivated. Lets be honest here...celebrities have much more to motivate them to stay in shape and be thin than the normal person. They get paid to look good. We don't.

All in all I'm glad Oprah was honest about her weight. It was obvious that she had gained some weight, but we didn't know how much until she said something about it. Perhaps her fanatical followers will learn a lesson from her honesty and her struggle to be healthy. Being fit in this day and age is not easy, but it's not impossible either. If it was easy, we'd all be doing it.

Friday, January 2, 2009

I have a new cookbook!

For those that don't know, there is a movement out in foodie world that says screw "health food" and low-fat/low-carb prepackaged garbage. It says to eat whole foods (whole milk, real butter, etc) but simply eat in moderation. Overall I've found that foods made with real ingredients as opposed to processed by-products taste better and therefor satisfy my cravings better. Nothing says love like fillers. While I don't follow this philosophy completely because I still keep my eyes open for the kinds of carbs I'm eating (for lack of better descriptors brown carbs vs white carbs), protein amounts, and the kinds of fats (saturated vs unsaturated), eating real food is yummy and I haven't noticed any kind of detriment to my health and my doctor hasn't said anything.

All of that was to lead up to the arrival of my latest cookbook - How to Cook Like Your Grandmother second edition. It's a self-published cookbook by Drew Kime that goes over basics like how to mince vs dice and focuses more on flavor than nutritional content. In the end I believe we should all be accountable enough to make sure we're eating veggies with every meal and not drinking a boat load of gravy and calling it breakfast. This book even includes a recipe on how to make your own butter. Yes BUTTER!! I've made butter using this recipe over the summer and my husband loved it.

Check out the blog that goes with the cook book, and have fun in the kitchen again. I think if we all enjoyed cooking and had some of the intimidation taken out of the kitchen we'd all eat healthier and enjoy food again. Don't let food be a guilt trip.